The news wasn’t good for the United Fund Board of Directors last Wednesday as board members were told they would have to deal with a huge funding shortfall this year due to a donation snafu by one of the organization’s largest donors.

Earlier this year the United Fund Board was told all of the money contributed by local employees of Wal-Mart was sent to the United Way, not the United Fund, by the department store giant.

The funding shortfall amounted to over $40,000, leaving the United Fund Board the dark task of making some budget cuts.

“We really had to make some tough decisions,” said Board President Brian Black. “Though we did have to make some cuts, we were able to partially fund most of those agency who had requested aid from the United Fund.”

According to Wal-Mart Distribution Center Manager Jay Boyle, the funding issue was not a decision made by Wal-Mart but was a change in distribution policy by the United Way.

Boyle said the monies raised by Wal-Mart associates in the past have always gone to the United Way of America, who would then distribute the funds to non-member agencies (such as the United Fund) designated by the employees.

“The Untied Way of America contacted Bentonville (Wal-Mart’s home office) earlier this year stating for transparency and accountability, funds would only be distributed to United Ways in good standing beginning in 2005. Diversions to non-member organizations would no longer take place,” Boyle told the Daily Democrat Friday.

“Wal-Mart has just continued to follow our standard operating procedure as in years past,” Boyle said.

Boyle told the United Fund Board the employees at both the Wal-Mart DC and store were “just as shocked” as the United Fund Board was by the development.

“This is not what we wanted,” he said. “We have employees that live and work here in Pauls Valley and they want their payroll deductions to go to the community they live in.”

Black said the United Fund Board would still seek a solution to the problem for next year’s drive.

“While we won’t have the Wal-Mart funds for this year’s drive, we’ll still pursue this and hopefully will have something in place next year so we won’t have to face something like this again,” he said.

Board members Wednesday began the task of whittling down the $105,498 in funding requests made by the agencies the United Fund supports.

Those organizations already supported by three United Way agencies in Norman, Ardmore and Ada were notified by Black Thursday and Friday they would not receive any funding from the Pauls Valley United Fund this year.

“The board decided those groups will have to go those United Way offices to request funding,” Black noted.

With that in mind, board members started making cuts to the funding requests made by the remaining charities on the United Fund’s list.

After all the cuts were made, the United Fund goal for the 2005-2006 fund drive was set at $45,500.

“We’ve got 22 agencies we will still fund this year and I think that is very admirable considering the deficit we were facing,” Black said.

“Now, more than ever, we need the full support of the community. We need every individual and business to contribute to this year’s drive,” he said.

“All of these agencies make valuable contributions to the quality of life in Pauls Valley. So, we all need to make sure they can continue their invaluable work by contributing to the United Fund drive this year.”

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